Start with the Why?
Why do you want to grow an audience?
To communicate a message around your EVP. To support recruitment activity. To gain a readership for your blog posts.
What’s your objective?
What are you trying to achieve?
Put a strategy in place. We advise all clients; don’t think about the social channels you want to grow an audience on, think about what it is you want to achieve and then define a strategy around it.
The selection of channels will come once you’ve got your strategy in place.
In my time in recruitment and working within social media I’ve met and engaged with some interesting seed investors and entrepreneurs, and although a strategy or a business plan is important to show credibility, it is the individual they buy into.
With this in mind always expect the strategy to be flexible and to change. It’s still important to have one, but social media moves at a rapid pace, and so must your strategy.
When I first got into recruitment, I met Mark Williams known as MRLinkedin, who did a session on Linkedin recruitment hacks. He gave me great insight into how to infiltrate LinkedIn to gain access to wider communities than I could via my own networks.
At that point, Linkedin didn’t open its platform to all of its communities at any cost, so this session was imperative in allowing me to create the communities I needed.
Years later I have over 12,000 followers. However, the reality is that they are not a niche group of people who share my same interests and passions.
I have a massive network from my days as a global headhunter in the pharmaceutical sector in South America.
They still read and engage with a lot of my content, but are no longer the people I want to influence or be influenced by. So your communities and followers must evolve as your career does over time. This doesn’t mean they still can’t be a part of your community, but the likelihood of them being highly engaged is much less likely.
This here’s what happens when you have no plan. A cute dog gets more followers than you 🙁
That’s okay though because I’m happy for at this moment in time for Instagram to be a place where I share images with my friends and work colleagues. But the minute you want to utilize it for work purposes a defined strategy is imperative.
But don’t underestimate the power of your puppy friends use your family and co to help like, share and engage with your content. They love you and will like your stuff, and naturally, it will help with your algorithms.
So you don’t need to completely separate work and home, just make sure your audience is supportive.
THEN THE HOW!
What are those things we can do to grow and engage a following?
Buy them from China (other countries are available to sell followers!)
But do you want to become like this guy!?!
BEWARE! Your audience will smell you out like the TRUMP that you are.
But buying followers doesn’t always have to be bad, if it’s done in the right way and your followers are relevant and presented with great content/info/advice.
You can pay to promote your posts and your page to a well-defined audience. But make sure you save your best content that has the best chance of converting readers into followers.
Facebook is a great example of where this can give you a good return on your investment.
The organic route is best. It protects our communities from any nasties! We don’t want any dodgy chemicals in our Bananas.
Content is King/Queen dependant on your preference. Your content has to be of high quality, authentic and meaningful. But it also sometimes allowed to be short, funny, authentic and to the point.
Here Snickers suggests Jeremy may have behaved better if he had eaten some food before he decided to assault another member of the BBC crew.
Sometimes it’s just about bringing some personality to the table. This didn’t need a big budget and could be created quickly.
The results speak for themselves!
So what next?
Research your potential audience!
Learn where they hang out, what they are talking about, what they are sharing and what keeps them up at night!
Identify key influencers in that space to help build your following and amplify your message.
What’s their Banana!
Find out what it is that makes them tick. What gets their mouths watering?
Cute puppies are okay if you’re a dog grooming service, but otherwise, it needs to have more substance.
Several entrepreneurial teachers have left the profession and started writing and selling lesson plans. They are now worth millions. Teachers are busier and under more stress than ever. They created something that added immediate value to their network and became financially successful because of it.
What’s your niche and what’s your audiences Banana?
Keep your best blog posts for the biggest platforms!
Write a blog or get your employees to write blogs. Content with meaning, content that matters.
I write for several publishers who independently have their own large network of followers. It means a can perform on a larger stage to new audiences than that are available to me locally.
It’s not the channel that will provide you with the amplification of your posts but the audiences that read and engage with them.
Look to increase your audience size by performing on other peoples stages. This will dramatically increase your followers from new and diverse audiences.
#SunnySays does VIRAL better than anybody, and I love what she does here with the word VIRAL. I have to say though that ‘authenticity’ is far overused so much so that it’s no longer authentic.
What it means is that it comes from within. Shakespeare wasn’t the first person to write about Love or Tragedy, but he sure did do a good job at it. When trying to be authentic, let it come from the heart. Match those things that you’re saying to your real life experiences, and you can’t go far wrong.
The importance of influencers!
I recently went to a recruitment event in London. I spoke there several years before on ‘bringing executive search in-house’. This year I went to see Johnny Campbell talk passionately about ‘diversity’.
We also had a catch-up meeting just before he went on stage on how our partnership with ‘Social Talent’ was going and how it may evolve.
Later that evening I had drinks and catch up with my Dad on the Thames. I messaged on Linkedin what a great day it had been, and I had a really positive meet with @JohnnyCampbell, and my views hit 1500.
But the moment Johnny interacted with the post it exploded to over 10,000 views. I also received a lot more invites to connect from relevant people from Johnny’s network.
So do not underestimate the power relevant influencers can have on growing your following. Don’t overdo this tactic and make sure it’s genuine otherwise you’ll miss the opportunity.
Learn more about this tactic here – Influencing the influencer
So do we always have to play to our niche to grow an engaged following?
NO! It doesn’t always have to be obvious.
Pepsi did it the wrong way, and Heineken did more than just bloody blow the doors off!
Open your world is…
Heineken has shown it can be more than a beer and a Rugby sponsor. It didn’t just play to its usual audience. It did something that mattered, and that made a difference to people’s lives.
You’ll get people across the world who have no interest in Beer, but they possibly know might be a future employee, because Heineken has shown themselves to be more than just a drink.
They have a conscience and want to make a positive difference 1 person at a time! Which is more than what we can say for the multimillion dollar advertising disaster that Pepsi tried and failed at.
But how do we measure our success?
This also needn’t be costly if you keep it simple.
All the social sites can give you some great free stats and insight into what’s working and what’s not.
Decide what your key metrics are and what you ultimately want to achieve, and they learn from it.
But how do I excite and inspire others to follow me?
If in doubt, go see what Derek Sivers has to say in his wonderful 3min Ted Talks. Because there lies the best description of what it is to grow a following. The only challenge is a Movement can take a journey of its own and is hard to control.
But if you can be brave, be creative, dynamic and ultimately be human and put yourself out there. Then a following you shall have because we all want to believe in somebody who believes in themselves.
That helps to give us the faith that we also can one day be as confident about ourselves as those that we follow 😉
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In-Post Images: given by author